A three-year suspended jail term was imposed on a 72-year-old credit union officer who took out loans in his son’s name in West Cork without his son’s knowledge causing a €35,000 loss.
Detective Garda DJ O’Shea confirmed today that Matthew Heffernan of 5 Vereker Gardens, Ennis Road, Limerick, had repaid all of the €35,000 loss to the credit union, and was never in any kind of difficulty before or since.
Det. Garda O’Shea said the accused had been using the loans to buy property in Portugal and Bulgaria but with the economic collapse in 2008 he found himself in difficulty and unable to make the repayments.
He pleaded guilty to six counts related of deception at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said, “The breach of trust, he being a employee of the credit union at the time, is significant. The original amount was significant but when it was all boiled down the actual loss was €35,000.
“I take into consideration the plea of guilty as all cases like this have potential to be difficult to prosecute. He has nothing previous. I impose a three-year sentence concurrent on all charges and suspended provided he keeps the peace for three years.” Det. Garda O’Shea previously outlined the background to the crime and refreshed this evidence for the judge today.
Matthew Heffernan had been obtaining loans from Berehaven credit union, Main Street, Castletownbere, on various dates between 2004 and 2009 by deception in the name of Liam Heffernan without his son’s knowledge.
“He used his position to open accounts in names of individuals without their knowledge,” Det. Garda O’Shea said. One of those individuals who had no knowledge of his name being so used was Liam Heffernan, a son of the defendant.
Det. Garda O’Shea said that when Liam Heffernan found out what was going on he returned home from London and went to Limerick garda station to make a complaint stating that his father, Matthew, had been obtaining loans in his (Liam’s) name without his knowledge.
The total amount of money obtained by deception was effectively €35,000.
Det. Garda O’Shea said the first loan obtained by Matthew Heffernan in his son’s name was for €99,000 but this was repaid. Further sums were obtained in the form of re-financing, the detective said.
Mr O’Dwyer said the accused co-operated fully with the investigation and made frank admissions.
Alan O’Dwyer defence barrister said the accused was a man with a range of serious health difficulties with chronic mobility issues and had repaid the loss in full.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin previously said in light of the fact that the defendant had been a field officer for the League of Credit Unions, “I doubt it anyone really knew what was going on due to his position.”